Despite a perfect 9-0 career mark Kelvin Gastelum is still the ultimate underdog story. Heading into the co-main event slot at UFC 180 Gastelum takes on top ten welterweight stalwart Jake Ellenberger at the Mexico City event. With a win over Ellenberger, Gastelum is well on his way to becoming the living embodiment of Drake’s song “Started from the Bottom”.
Gastelum could be the moral to a Drake story. Still just 23 years old, Gastelum began his pro career fighting in basement show at events held in Mexicali, Mexico. Fighting out of the small town of Yuma, Arizona Gastelum was far from a hyped prospect when he first stepped into a ring.
Speaking with UFC.com Gastelum recalls fondly his first couple of fights in Mexico.
“The crowds were wild, I remember fighting in Mexico and people were throwing stuff at the ring and shouting and screaming and going crazy. It’s really a different crowd, but most people are used to it. It’s pretty chaotic though and unlike anything I experienced in any other place.”
Ducking flying objects like drinks and hot pretzels from fans while your opponent looks for a takedown in the ring is the type of on the job training that you cannot replicate in the gym. If you can dodge a fully loaded hot dog, you can dodge a head kick.
Gastelum was only 5-0 on the local circuit before he auditioned and was selected to the cast of The Ultimate Fighter 17. The son of Mexican immigrants, Gastelum will have the sold out Mexico City Arena in his corner.
“Fighting in Mexico was very different, but I liked it. The people really have my back and support me one hundred percent and I’m so happy to be fighting in front of my Mexican fans again.”
The TUF 17 winner is now 4-0 under the UFC banner in two different weight classes. At UFC 180 Gastelum faces the biggest test of his career in Ellenberger. A loser of his last two fights the 29 year old Ellenberger needs to silent the crowd in Mexico in order to avoid a tumble out the UFC’s 170 pound shark tank.
Shark tanks, underdogs and hot dogs make the UFC 180 co-main event a really good welterweight scrap or the potential name for Drake’s next LP.